President Signs Major Chemicals Reform Bill

President Obama signed major chemicals legislation into law on June 22, 2016. The bill, called the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to reform the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA)” aims to modernize how chemicals are managed in the U.S. On June 7, 2016 the Senate passed the compromise TSCA Reform bill by voice vote on June 7, 2016 and the House of Representatives passed this bill on May 24, 2016 by a vote of 403 to 12.

Summary of New Requirements

NASF has been working with several industry coalitions to support this historic bipartisan legislation to revise U.S. chemical management requirements. Based on the language in the legislation, the new requirements would include the following.

  • “Conditions of use” (i.e., how a chemical is made, processed, used or disposed of) is used to determine the actual risks posed by chemical substances.
  • Mandated EPA risk reviews for new and existing chemicals before they can enter the market.
  • For existing chemical substances, EPA will set priorities for the highest risk substances, conduct a risk evaluation, and implement risk management requirements.
  • Three years for EPA to complete risk evaluation and have an annual plan identifying chemical substances subject to risk evaluation.
  • EPA is required to propose risk management rules for chemical substances within one year of completing risk evaluation, and another year to issue a final rule.
  • Address Confidential Business Information claims protecting the identities of chemical substances in commerce.
  • Set fees to fund the new chemicals program only after consultation with potentially subject parties.
  • Provide preemption for state actions to regulate chemical substances taken before August 1, 2015 to balance state and federal authority to regulate chemicals.

Metal-Specific Provisions

As a result of an initiative by several metals industries, including industry meetings on Capitol Hill during the NASF Washington Forum over the past two years, several provisions include favorable treatment for metals and metal compounds.

  • Metals and Metal Compounds – In identifying priorities for and conducting risk evaluations, EPA will be required to use its 2007 Framework for Metals Risk Assessment, which takes into consideration that metals and metal compounds by their nature are persistent in the environment and have unique characteristics. The risks associated with metals and metal compounds must be assessed differently than organic chemicals.
  • Expedited Action – Metals are excluded from expedited EPA action on persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals for risk management through regulation. EPA would be required to conduct risk evaluations on metals and metal compounds before proceeding to a rulemaking.
  • Preference Provisions – In designating high-priority substances, EPA shall give preference to chemicals listed in the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments, such as those with a high persistent and bio-accumulative score, those that are known human carcinogens, and those that have high acute and chronic toxicity. While this is generally favorable to metals and metal compounds, the provision will be a mixed bag for certain metals and metal compounds, depending on their classification.

EPA Challenges Implementing New Requirements

EPA will face numerous challenges in implementing the requirements of the new legislation. The time frames for identifying high priority chemicals for review, the risk evaluations and rulemakings are fairly aggressive. In addition, EPA budget cuts and recent staff retirements will reduce needed to resources to implement the requirements in a timely fashion. EPA may have to reassign staff from other program offices to address its needs in implementing the new TSCA Reform requirements.

Many of the issues impacting the implementation of the TSCA Reform requirements discussed above will take time to develop. NASF will continue reviewing the new legislation and provide further details. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at, or Christian Richter at


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